This is a guest post by Darcie Sosa. Know of a food blogger, nutrition guru, farmer or passionate storyteller who may be interested? Contact us or provide details in your comment.

Being diagnosed with a food allergy can be very overwhelming. You know that you have to avoid certain foods in order to feel better, but reading food labels and cutting out foods you’ve always eaten can be confusing. Let’s talk a bit about why and how you need to avoid certain foods in order to live a healthy lifestyle.

A food allergy is an autoimmune disorder. What does that mean? It means that your body’s immune system produces antibodies (which normally protect against infectors) in reaction to a food which is normally found and tolerated by the body. According to the FDA, each year 30,000 Americans go to the emergency room; 2,000 of those are hospitalized and 150 deaths occur each year from severe food allergies. I’m not using these numbers to scare or intimidate, but the avoidance of food allergens is the best preventative way know to curb these sometimes serious reactions. The symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from non-existent, to gastro intestinal disorders, to anaphylaxis (which can be life- threatening). Whatever the symptoms are, it’s very important to avoid your allergen and the foods that contain it.

Some allergens are easier than others to avoid. The FDA requires all food manufacturers to list the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies on all their packaged foods, even if minuscule amounts are found in that food as an ingredient. Those eight allergens are: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Important noting, cross contamination isn’t a required labeling. If you have an allergy that can cause major issues or be life threatening, you want to avoid any packaged foods that don’t voluntarily list warnings about possible cross contaminations. Remember even the tiniest bit of an allergen is needed to make you sick.

Sticking with eating whole foods and fewer packaged foods not only ensure you know what’s in your food, making it easier to avoid your allergen, but also is a much healthier way of eating.

Now that you know you must avoid your allergen, where do you turn for food advice? There are many support groups online for various allergens that list great alternatives to the foods you have to avoid, different recipes for those alternatives, and provide a place to share personal experiences when living with a food allergy.

Remember that if you suspect that you may have a food allergy, it is important to discuss this with your doctor and possibly an allergy specialist to make sure that it’s accurately diagnosed and that you receive the best advice available. Your doctor can also help you to develop a plan for what to do if you come into contact with your food allergen.

Happy Eating!

(2006). Approaches to establish thresholds for major food allergens and for gluten in food . Retrieved from fda.gov

 


About the author:
Darcie Sosa

Darcie Sosa is a guest blogger and dietetic tech for Everyday Health Calorie Counter.